GAIN­ING GROUND

NZ Life & Leisure - - Contents -

This Hawke’s Bay fam­ily shares a vi­sion: to con­nect New Zealan­ders with what they eat, how they live and the planet it­self

Man­garara Sta­tion

Holis­tic graz­ing is the heart­beat of Man­garara. Grass is kept longer, with a longer rest pe­riod be­fore the an­i­mals re­turn to the pad­dock. Cat­tle tram­ple the long grass, which has a higher car­bon con­tent. It soaks up the dung and urine so it doesn’t con­tam­i­nate wa­ter­ways and in­stead be­comes com­post, en­rich­ing the soil and in­sect life. Longer grass ( like a so­lar panel) with longer roots ( like a bat­tery bank).

The farm is not or­ganic but strives to be with­out chem­i­cals and to bal­ance na­ture and agri­cul­ture.

An­i­mal health is im­per­a­tive. “We treat our an­i­mals like our chil­dren with the best life and best food. If an­i­mal reme­dies for stock health are re­quired we use them.” The farm is pro­tected by two QEII covenants. Some 105,000 trees have been planted in the past eight years.

22 cows for milk­ing, 76 calves for rear­ing, 60 berk­shire pigs, 150 chick­ens, 900 breed­ing ewes, 1000 lambs (to sup­ply the Fam­ily Farm Meat Box), 150 dairy heifers, 50 beef cat­tle, 150 rais­ing and fin­ish­ing con­tract wagyu steers and 70 wagyu cows.

Grow­ing abun­dance of tui, ko­ri­mako, pipi­wha­rau­roa, kereru, frogs, spider webs, in­sects and bees. man­garara.co. nz IT IS A PHONE CALL Greg Hart won’t for­get. De­cem­ber 2007 and the Man­garara Sta­tion farmer cold-called Air New Zealand to talk trees, planes, fuel, car­bon cred­its and en­vi­ron­men­tal wel­fare.

It was au­da­cious rhetoric. Could there be po­ten­tial for New Zealand’s na­tional air­line to off­set its en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact by part­ner­ing with a 600-hectare holis­ti­cally hued farm in Cen­tral Hawke’s Bay – a world away from Air New Zealand’s glass-fronted of­fices in Auck­land?

Forty days later Greg and Rachel were in the city mix­ing it up with the big guns – the prime min­is­ter, Air New Zealand’s CEO and the air­line’s man­age­ment team. The un­be­liev­able hap­pened; Man­garara Sta­tion was an­nounced as the first re­cip­i­ent of the Air New Zealand En­vi­ron­men­tal Trust, gar­ner­ing a grant of $450,000 over three years to plant 85,000 na­tive trees on the farm and ce­ment­ing an as­ton­ish­ing bond be­tween bigscale cor­po­rate player and small-scale man of the land.

For the past eight years the con­ver­gence has brought reg­u­lar vis­its to Man­garara Sta­tion from Air New Zealand’s Green­team – staff from all cor­ners and ca­reers in­clud­ing flight at­ten­dants, air traf­fic con­trollers, engi­neers, cargo han­dlers and cor­po­rate man­agers.

They pitch in, tend the trees and en­hance the land­scape planted on the farm as part of the air­line’s con­ser­va­tion estate. Re­la­tion­ships as well as trees have bur­geoned. “The Green­team has be­come part of the Man­garara Sta­tion fam­ily. Many of the staff have re­vis­ited the farm with their own fam­i­lies,” says Air New Zealand’s head of sus­tain­abil­ity Lisa Daniell. One en­gi­neer has stayed five times.

Greg and Rachel Hart are hum­bled. “The re­la­tion­ship has been trans­for­ma­tive. It has showed us that any­thing is pos­si­ble and it’s opened the gates,” says Greg.

Rachel and Greg with their chil­dren Ge­orge ( left), Emma and Bill and Pipi the dog. “We re­ally be­lieve in find­ing what sparks you up and fol­low­ing your pas­sion to use in ser­vice to the world.”

THIS PAGE: Last win­ter 5000 na­tives were planted with woollen weed mat­ting and biodegrad­able pins around the lake’s edge. Pro­tected by a QEII covenant since 2006, the 35- hectare lake is a prime habi­tat for water birds. OP­PO­SITE: A 10- minute ride over the farm on a quad bike util­ity re­veals an en­chanted world. Set in 10 hectares of pro­tected podocarp for­est and wet­land is an old hut that Greg and Rachel have re­pur­posed as a mag­i­cal set­ting for fam­ily pic­nics and sum­mer sleep­overs.

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